Matt Williams tried to argue with second base ump Angel Hernandez, but, you know, c'mon, that's one you're not going to win even if you have a good case, but the Washington Nationals' skipper might have had an argument.
Was he going to get the force at second on Matt Dominguez's one-out grounder to short in the ninth turned into a double play? Not likely. But he went out for a chat with Hernandez after seeing Houston Astros' pinch runner Marwin Gonzalez grab Danny Espinosa's gloved left hand/arm as he slid by second base.
Dominguez grounded to shortstop Ian Desmond after Jason Castro took a one-out walk from Nats' closer Rafael Soriano and was replaced at first by Gonzalez. The Astros' pinch runner slid in hard with his arms raised and grabbed hold of Espinosa's arm as he slid by, preventing the Nationals' second baseman from making any further movements even though there was little chance he was going to be able to throw Dominguez out at first.
Did Gonzalez's grab prevent Espinosa from making an attempt though?
"That was my question for Angel," Williams told reporters after the Nationals' 6-5 win over the Astros. "He slides into second base and it's one thing to slide in and break up a double play, it's another thing to grab a glove. And he explained to me that it's not reviewable and he said in his opinion he put his hands up and we had to go from there, but I had to go out there and see what he has to say about it."
The Nationals settled for taking the lead runner out and Soriano retired Jonathan Villar to end ninth and earn his 14th save of 2014.
So did Ian Desmond make the right decision to go for the close play at second instead of throwing to first on Dominguez's grounder?
"It depends on the speed of the runner, certainly," Williams said afterwards. "Who's on first? Who's at the plate? And at what pace the ball is hit and whether you've got a play at first, but there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to second base. Danny made a nice stretch, we're probably not going to turn two there, but make sure we get one and keep the guy at first."
It was one of several nice plays by Desmond, who has cut down on the errors after committing 13 in the first 50 games. He's gone 18 games without an error now, but his skipper said he doesn't see Desmond doing anything different.
"I don't know if there's any difference, there's no difference, it's just that he's making plays," Williams said. "Went to the hole a couple of times. The play in the last inning was key, certainly, and he went up the middle for the double play too, so he's playing well."
Can Desmond and the Nationals complete their second sw _ _ p of the Astros this season in tonight's series finale? We'll find out at 7:05 pm EDT. Until then, links and lots of them... starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:
• THE BIG STORY!!!:
• "In other words: Either an injury to a Nationals regular or some other factor – like a slump – could make the Nationals’ decision for them." - "Mike Rizzo doesn’t expect a ‘big trade’ when Bryce Harper returns" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
• NATS BEAT:
• "Manager Matt Williams described it as soft-toss and said he could be close to resuming full baseball activities on the field." - "Harper swings in cage for first time for first time since surgery" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "'The errors in the past have made me who I am today,' Desmond said at the time. 'These are going to make me a better man, too. Just got to keep fighting through it.'" - "Nationals Pastime: Yet again, Desmond rebounds from slow defensive start" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com
• "The Astros rocked Clippard for four runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning, largely by jumping on fastballs early in at-bats." - "Reliever Tyler Clippard has four-run inning in Nationals' win vs. Astros" - Daniel Popper, nationals.com: News
• "What Bo Porter remembers about his last time in Nationals Park are tears and disappointment." - "Bo Porter: Nats’ 2012 NLDS loss still stings" - Isabelle Khurshudyan, The Washington Post
• "There are 93 games left on the schedule, an eternity in baseball, but the six games on the Nationals’ docket this week are particularly significant." - "Nationals score early, hang on late to move into first place" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "After closing out their 10-game road trip on a four-game losing streak, the Nationals got back in the win column tonight..." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams discusses Nats' 6-5 win (Cedeno optioned to Triple-A)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com
• "The Nationals believe that, after two rehab starts and several bullpen sessions, Gonzalez is ready to take his turn on the mound against the Astros at Nationals Park." - "Houston Astros at Washington Nationals - June 18, 2014" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com Preview
• "The key may have been Desmond’s approach. His defensive foibles could have laid him low. Instead, he continued to practice fundamentals every day before games." - "Ian Desmond’s defense comes around" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
• "On the heels of a long — and quite eventful — road trip, the Nationals came home an enigma of sorts." - "Washington Nationals get back on track with win over Houston Astros" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Nationals starter Tanner Roark struggled with the command on his two-seam fastball on Tuesday night but battled through humid conditions to earn the win." - "Houston Astros at Washington Nationals - June 17, 2014" - MLB.com WSH Recap
• "Astros starter Dallas Keuchel (8-4) arrived in D.C. with an 8-3 record and was 6-0 on the road. He had won six of his last seven decisions." - "Hearing from Roark and Rendon after win over Astros" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "Harrisburg Senators outfielder Michael Taylor joined us first to talk about his breakout year in the minor leagues." - "Podcast: ‘Baseball in the District’ – Michael Taylor & Mark Zuckerman" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider
• "The heat provided another reminder that now, in the thick of the season, is no time for a ragged series to turn into a bad week." - "Tanner Roark, Nationals hold off Astros, 6-5" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
• "Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper took swings in the batting cage with both hands this afternoon for the first time since tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb on April 26." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams provides updates on Harper, Gonzalez and Ramos" - Courtney Lofgren, MASNSports.com
• "When Strasburg made his Major League debut in June 2010, Gwynn was in the stands sitting next to the pitcher's great uncle, making sure to describe in detail everything that was happening on the mound." - "Gwynn remains Strasburg's favorite player" - Daniel Popper, nationals.com: News
• "Before Strasburg was a great pitcher, he loved watching baseball and seeing Gwynn play in his hometown of San Diego." - "Strasburg emotional in remembrance of Gwynn" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "Strasburg grew up in San Diego when Gwynn was in his prime as the greatest hitter of an entire baseball generation. The pitcher remembers first watching him play as a kid." - "Strasburg Strasburg reflects on mentor Tony Gwynn" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider
• "Tuesday afternoon in front of his locker in the Nationals clubhouse, Strasburg both held back tears and smiled as he told the story." - "Stephen Strasburg grateful for time with Tony Gwynn" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
• "Nationals Manager Matt Williams played 10 seasons with the San Francisco Giants from 1987 until 1996, and faced Tony Gwynn of the division-rival Padres in multiple series every season." - "Matt Williams reflects on passing of Tony Gwynn" - Daniel Popper, All Nats All the Time
• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:
• "It’s Army day at the Washington Nationals’ ballpark on Wednesday, and you won’t believe the lineup." - "Army brass to suit up for Washington Nationals' Army Day" - Kathleen Curthoys, Army Times
• "[Evan] Skoug was anticipated to be a high pick in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft , but he fell to the Washington Nationals in the 34th round on June 7 when teams saw that Skoug's true desire was to go to college." - "Evan Skoug of Libertyville Wildcats drafted by Washington Nationals, but will play college baseball at Texas Christian" - Phil English, Chicagotribune.com
• "Former Columbia Central lefthander Matthew Spann was back in town for a few days this week, having some time off from his job of pitching for the Washington Nationals’ high A affiliate Potomac." - "Former Lion Matthew Spann chasing the big league dream" - Caleb Odom, Columbia Daily Herald
• "As Bo Porter headed to Nationals Park on Tuesday afternoon, the Astros’ manager couldn’t help but think about the tears that rolled down his cheeks the last time he had been in that stadium." - "Return to Washington brings back disappointing memories for Porter" - Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Ultimate Astros
• "Porter was seen by some as a prime candidate to take over for former Washington manager Davey Johnson, who wound up retiring after the 2013 season." - "Return to Nationals Park bittersweet for Porter" - Brian McTaggart, astros.com: News
• "After sitting out three consecutive games with a bruised right hand, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve arrived early to Nationals Park on Tuesday eager to get back to work." - "Altuve’s return not enough in Astros’ loss to Nationals" - Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Ultimate Astros
• "The New York Mets, the Boston Red Sox, and the Washington Nationals, among others, were running enterprise applications from Micros." - "Oracle's reported $5B acquisition of Micros firms up its reach into the hospitality industry" - Jordan Novet, Venture Beat
• NATS MINORS:
• Class-A Auburn: "In his Auburn Doubledays debut, Travis Ott was all business. The youngest member of the Auburn pitching staff threw five shutout innings against the Batavia Muckdogs Saturday. The 6-4 left-hander struck out six and allowed one hit and one walk." - "Auburn Doubledays pitcher Ott remains focused after impressive start" - Jeremy Houghtaling, Auburn Citizen
• "Washington pitching prospect Jefry Rodriguez has the stuff to be special, but he needs to stay within himself and develop his off-speed pitches, according to Auburn manager Gary Cathcart." - "Nats' Rodriguez developing his repertoire" - Ashley Marshall, MiLB.com News
• "Wednesday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com
• "Shawn Pleffner had a late start to the minor league season, as the Arundel High School graduate started the season on the disabled list with a right quad injury." - "Trio of local stars play in Class A All-Star game" - David Driver, CapitalGazette.com: Professional Sports
• Double-A Harrisburg: "Harrisburg starter A.J. Cole (6-3), who took the loss, went five innings. The righty allowed six hits and three runs (all earned) while striking out eight and walking two." - "Kennys Vargas grand slam powers New Britain Rock Cats past Harrisburg Senators" - Tim Leone, PennLive.com
• Triple-A Syracuse: "Treinen tossed 61 strikes in 77 pitches, threw first-pitch strikes to the first 13 batters he faced and tossed 16 consecutive strikes in one stretch between the second in fourth innings." - "Treinen returns to lead Chiefs past Tides" - Syracuse Chiefs News
• "One thing the starting pitchers had to deal with for the first time at Nationals Park was the extreme heat and humidity, and it showed." - "Nationals Take Over First Place With Win Over Astros" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog
• "Anyway, Under Armour tweeted an image of Bryce Harper as a Transformer and the Nationals outfielder is more than meets the eye." - "Bryce Harper is more than meets the eye in Under Armour Transformers ad" - Scott Allen, The Washington Post
• "The Washington Nationals’ longtime success against the Houston Astros carried on with a 6-5 Tuesday night to kick off a six-game home stand." - "Washington Nationals Game 69 Review: Rendon, Zimmerman Combine for Five RBIs in Nats’ Win over Astros" - Alyssa Wolice, District Sports Page
• "To be honest, I didn’t really start closely following the draft and track who the Nats were 'rumored' to be with until the 2008 draft." - "Nats Draft History; what were the rumors on draft day historically?" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race
• "If there’s anything in baseball that will get a crowd (or a Twitter conversation) going, it’s discussion of the merits of the bunt." - "Statistically Speaking: Is the Bunting Working?" - Stuart Wallace, District Sports Page
• NL EAST UPDATES:
• Braves: "You know that question some people have asked about the Braves: How is this team in first place? Well, there’s no reason to ask that question right now." - "Braves out of first — not they deserved to be there" - Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Phillies (@Phillies) June 18, 2014
• Phillies: "Many seem to think Ruben Amaro's time as general manager will soon be over. But what if the exact opposite is true?" - "Could Ruben Amaro Get A Contract Extension?" - John Stolnis, The Good Phight
• Mets: "Wilmer Flores starts on Wednesday for only the third time in the past 12 games. So is this an indication he now will be given an extended look at shortstop?" - "Mets on Flo: Winning trumps development" - Adam Rubin, Mets Blog - ESPN New York
• Marlins: "After being squeezed out of a starting job again due to a young and crowded Marlins outfield, Marisnick is getting an opportunity again after Christian Yelich was placed on the DL with a lower back strain." - "Jake Marisnick & Anthony DeSclafani: Deep League Wire" - Mike Podhorzer, FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball